We Know, We Know14 November 2013
"We who are active in the American Jewish community know that the conversation has moved on from ‘Israel-right-or-wrong’ to asking a deeper question: How can we help our Israeli cousins build an Israel that is right?"Add a comment
Thinking Locally31 October 2013
An initial analysis of the results from last week's local elections in Israel shows grounds for optimism, but also cause for concern.Add a comment
"He's not a rabbi. He's a boy!"28 October 2013
By Allison Sherwat Cooper, October 2013
I was given a gift by the Jewish female pioneers (and their equally important male supporters) before me. As a child raised in the 1980s in an egalitarian, progressive, reform temple in Washington, DC, it was a given that I would become a bat mitzvah, stand on the bimah during the high holidays and chant the Jonah portion, and have numerous female presidents lead our temple. My mom was the matriarch of our Jewish education and life in our home. Therefore to me, being Jewish is synonymous with reaching your potential as a woman.
Of course, it wasn't a given. It was earned the very, very hard way.
The temple I now belong to in Norfolk, VA has a wonderful female rabbi who married me and my husband and performed the baby naming ceremonies for my sons. As important as it was for me as a young girl to know no bounds, as a mom, I now proudly own the responsibility of teaching my sons about the important, equally valuable role women play in all aspects of their lives, especially their Jewish lives.
I thank the Women of the Wall for making the following possible: In the past year, I took my three year old son to a Bar Mitzvah at a different synagogue and pointed to their rabbi on the bimah. My son wrinkled his forehead and skeptically challenged, “He’s not a rabbi. He’s a boy!” Times have changed, Women of the Wall, because of you.
Bigger than Feminism, Better with Feminism29 October 2013
By Susan Silverman, October 2013
When I became a Woman of the Wall, I became more fully Jewish.
I had been a rabbi for almost 20 years the day I was rounded up, with nine other women – including my seventeen-year-old daughter – by police for wearing a tallis and praying out loud at the kotel. That day was followed by a lot of forced introspection – the media requests for interviews came flooding in.
I knew in my heart why I was there. My Jewish practice called me to it, the desire to join the historic flow of Jews at that place called me to it, feminism called me to it.
But over the weeks of forced introspection, I realized something much deeper and more existential. Judaism was at stake for women and men. For all our children. For the Jewish future. I had always felt that the centuries of missing women’s voices had created a skewed Judaism – like a tree that had been deprived the right balance of sustenance. Now a narrow, idolatrous view of God and covenant was being codified in civil law! Mitzvot were more and more the jurisdiction of Hareidi Jews, becoming ends in themselves, not building blocks for a society in which the prophets could rejoice.
With WoW, I realized that my feminist, progressive fight was for the deepest purposes of our nation.
Rabbi Susan Silvermanis a writer and activist. She and her husband, Yosef Abramowitz have five children and live in Jerusalem.
Out of the Depths28 October 2013
By Rabbi Neil Blumofe, October 2013
As one who came of age while walking the warrens of Jerusalem's Old City, I could easily disappear into the miracle of a vibrant and exciting Jewish life that has been fought for and established in this place of miracle. And yet -- our sages of old are still calling. Calling for us to not live complacently or with complicity, or to use our received wisdom as a bludgeon. Rather, we are invited to continue to turn and reimagine a flourishing Judaism that beckons us into a deeper relationship with each other -- finding kindness and generosity as we ingather and make room to live with each other.
Women's rights is not an American import -- authentic exploration that is steeped in tradition is a timeless Torah value that inspires and strengthens each of us as we quest for meaning and community before God. I stand with those who support gender equality to further Jewish life that is based in curiosity, purpose, and love of regular ritual. May we all write our Torah that is in conversation with ways that we can bring forward inspired kedushah, without fear of reprisal or accusations of speciousness. May we honor the precious legacy and the holy places that we inhabit and be worthy of God's name as we call out from our labyrinthine narrow places.
Neil Blumofe is the Senior Rabbi of Congregation Agudas Achim in Austin, Texas. A Rabbis Without Borders Fellow, he is also a Fellow at the Hartman Institute in Jerusalem.